Thursday, December 18, 2008

Transporter 3

Three Jason Statham movies in a year? How can that be? Allow me to introduce you to the lovely Mrs. Speculator, a tremendous Statham fan, who has gotten me to see that he really is quite a fun actor. He stretched his range somewhat in The Bank Job, going beyond the traditional action film starring role, but Transporter 3 is right in his wheelhouse.

I enjoyed this movie a good bit, even if it does follow the same old formula from the first two movies—in fact, isn't that why we go to see it? Statham remains cool as Frank Martin, a man who will drive any package anywhere for a price. There is plenty of stunt-driving, including a couple of jaw-dropping maneuvers involving a train. And there are a few martial arts scenes, in which inexplicably, Statham always ends up without most of his clothes. There is something kind of funny about the way he uses his jacket, shirt, and tie as weapons, but he destroys them along the way and goes back to his trunk to get more clothes. Of course, the female viewers may appreciate this, as my fairly unbiased opinion is that he has gotten even more ripped than from his previous roles.

This time around, Statham is bullied into delivering an unknown package to a destination that is being provided to him via a GPS device. The bullying involves a device attached to a bracelet he is wearing that will blow up if it is more than 75 feet from the car (this is pretty clearly stated, but really only enforced when it needs to be). Accompanying him is a sullen young Ukrainian woman, Valentina (played by newcomer Natalya Rudakova), whose role in all of this is pretty clear to the audience but a mystery to Martin. She too wears the explosive bracelet, and they both know that they are to be killed after Martin delivers his package, so they spend their time driving trying to figure out how to get away from the evil Johnson, played by Robert Knepper (heh, he said "evil Johnson").

It all moves along smartly, working to the denouement we've come to expect, flashy car and fight scenes, the bad guys discovering you just don't mess with Martin in a car or in a suit, and the good guys winning out in the end with a last-second save. A lot of it is over the top (inflating dufflebags with enough air from the tires of a car to float that same car out of a lake? And then driving off in the same water-logged car…with flat tires???), but it's fun and it pulls you along for the ride rather willingly, even if the acting of Rudakova is horribly wooden and her accent nearly requires subtitles…after all she alternates between exceedingly cute and fairly sexy, and if the women can have their eye-candy with Statham, the men deserve a little something other than floating cars.

It's only after the movie ends and you think back along its plot that you realize it's just completely ridiculous. Or instance, if Valentina really understood her life was in peril, wouldn't she have told Martin that she was the package and exactly why she's the package? And if Johnson is the very best at what he does, why does he make so many clumsy mistakes, like giving Martin access to a cell phone so he can call his friends to help bail him out? Or even worse, why does Johnson concoct such a ridiculously complex plan as he does other than if he doesn't, there's no reason for the movie whatsoever?

But as I said, these moments of clarity only come along after the movie is over. During the course of the movie, the distractions really are Valentina's accent and the utterly unbelievable romance that sets up between Valentina and Martin. Everything else is just tons of fun, including references to gags in the earlier Transporter movies. All in all, the movie is at least worth a matinee viewing, if only to see the cool and suave Martin do his thing. I think I really could enjoy a Transporter 4 if they decide to make one. Just remember, if you decide to buy an Audi, make sure you get those extra capacity dufflebags with the extra capacity tires to inflate them. One never knows when one might have to drive off a bridge into a lake.

(yeah, the trailer for The Spirit was before the movie, and even it didn't ruin the fun we had watching T3)

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